It is claimed that weightlifting shoes with a raised heel may lead to a more upright trunk posture, and thus reduce the risk of back injuries during a barbell back squat. These proclaimed biomechanical effects have not been thoroughly investigated. The purpose of this study was to compare trunk and lower extremity biomechanics during barbell back squats in 3 foot postures.
14 recreational weightlifters (7 male and 7 female) between the ages of 18-50 performed barbell back squats in 3 conditions (barefoot on a flat surface, barefoot on a heel-raised platform, and wearing heel-raised weightlifting shoes) at 80% of their 1-RM. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to assess the activation of the knee extensors and paraspinal muscles at L3 and T12 spinal levels. A 3D motion capture system and an electrogoniometer recorded the kinematics of the thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and knee during the back squat to a depth where the hip was at least at the same level to the knee.
Resultsindicated that none of the heel-raised foot postures significantly affected trunk and lower extremity muscle activation [thoracolumbar paraspinal (p=0.52), lumbar paraspinal (p=0.179), knee extensor (p=0.507)] or the trunk angles [thoracolumbar spine (p=0.348), lumbar spine (p=0.283)] during the squat.
Our results demonstrated that during barbell back squats, heel-raised foot postures do not significantly affect spinal and knee extensor muscle activations, and trunk and knee kinematics. Heel-raised weightlifting shoes are unlikely to provide significant protection against back injuries for recreational weightlifters during the barbell back squat.
University of Nevada Las Vegas ,Las Vegas, Nevada UNITED STATES
Corresponding Author: Szu-Ping Lee, PT, PhD University of Nevada Las Vegas ,Las Vegas, Nevada UNITED STATES